We interpret the environmental controls on the global ocean diazotroph biogeography in the context of a three‐dimensional global model with a self‐organizing phytoplankton community. As is observed, the model’s total diazotroph population is distributed over most of the oligotrophic warm subtropical and tropical waters, with the exception of the southeastern Pacific Ocean. This biogeography broadly follows temperature and light constraints which are often used in both field‐based and model studies to explain the distribution of diazotrophs. However, the model suggests that diazotroph habitat is not directly controlled by temperature and light, but is restricted to the ocean regions with low fixed nitrogen and sufficient dissolved iron and phosphate concentrations. We interpret this regulation by iron and phosphate using resource competition theory which provides an excellent qualitative and quantitative framework.